Recession Redo: 10 low-cost ideas to rejuvenate your living space

March 20, 2009 

LIFE HOME-CNS-RECESSIONREDO 1 FL

Go shopping in your cupboard and select plates to hang on the wall for instant art. (Carlos Matta)

Forget the pessimistic attitude, recessionistas.

OK, we admit the outside world can appear pretty depressing these days, but your home still can be your haven. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to lift your spirits.

Just ask Carlos Matta, a Miami "lifestyle designer" who does everything from finding his clients a home to stocking it with towels and bed linens.

Matta's mantra: Minor changes can add glam without damaging your budget.

"You should brighten your living spaces because that's where you go at the end of the day to energize your batteries," he said. "Our surroundings can affect our mood completely. We want to come home to a homey feeling."

Here are his 10 suggestions for recessionista decorating:

 1  Move things around

Sometimes all it takes to re-energize a room is to move the furniture around. The best way to start is to move all the furniture out of the room and look at the space with fresh eyes. Consider all the rooms in your home a "store" and move furniture and accessories from room to room.

 2  Shop around for good deals

Don't be afraid to negotiate a lower price when you shop.

"You will be surprised how much you can get by asking," Matta said, pointing out he has haggled for additional discounts. "Everyone wants to sell, and this is the perfect time to get a bargain."

 3  Decorate your wall with porcelain plates

You don't even have to leave the house for this idea. Go into your cupboard and find plates that look compatible. Matta said it's best to keep the arrangement simple and use no more than three colors.

Arrange the plates on a large table and play around with the elements until you find an arrangement you like. Take pictures with your digital camera to help you compare your ideas. Measure the spaces between the plates and hang them on the wall. You can find plate hangers at a crafts store or look for them online.

 4  Garden stools aren't just for the garden

They can be used as inexpensive end tables, or put a couple together with a glass top to make a coffee table. Look for good deals in consignment shops and online. Some of the best buys are on www.overstock.com, where you can find stools for $75.

 5  Buy new pillows in happy, vibrant colors

Changing your throw pillows is a great way to enhance a sofa, bed or chair. You can change them seasonally. Use pastels for spring and brighter colors for summer. Add a throw to pick up one of the colors.

 6  Be creative with wall art

You don't have to spend a fortune on fancy, framed art.

Instead, buy stock frames and fill them with black-and-white photos from books or with different fabrics.

 7  Forget the neutrals in main living areas

Paint the walls in a happy color, such as yellow. It's full of energy. Don't be afraid of intensity, he said, go for it full blast. Yellow looks great with blue and white accents.

 8  Don't forget the laundry room

Most of us enter our homes through the garage and laundry room, but it's the one space we often forget to decorate. Make it the room that makes you smile. Matta suggests creating either horizontal or vertical stripes, depending on whether you want to make the ceilings look taller or the room look bigger. Put blue tape on the walls to visualize how it will look.

 9  Add an area rug

Rugs define areas, such as dining or conversation groups, and they can warm up a room with a tile or marble floor.

 10  Keep window treatments simple

Keep it light where you want to enjoy the view. Spend money on a quality, attractive rod and dress it with inexpensive side panels.

"My main advice to consumers is to shop around," he said. "There are great deals to take advantage of. Boost the economy little by little and get the nation going again."

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